Habrock Elected NUCA Chairwoman for 2017-18
FAIRFAX, VA Kara Habrock, Vice President & General Manager of L.G. Roloff Construction, a utility construction company based in Omaha, Nebraska, was recently installed as NUCA's 2017-18 Chairwoman. Habrock is the fourth woman to be named Chairman since the organization was founded in 1964.
Habrock brings to her leadership role an abundance of leadership experience and a keen understanding of the many issues NUCA members confront every day. Habrock's passion for government relations and political advocacy stem not only from a life-long interest in politics, but also from her long-held belief that local, state, and federal leaders, as well as citizens, take safe drinking water for granted and do not recognize the economic and public health and safety benefits of adequate and functionally sound underground utility infrastructure.
Habrock's strong affection for her exceptional, down-to-earth employees and industry colleagues has made her a loyal NUCA member and inspires her efforts on behalf of NUCA. She was first elected to the NUCA Board and served as Chair of NUCA's Government Affairs Committee for five years prior to becoming NUCA's newest Chairwoman. She has been equally active at the state level. She was a founding member of NUCA of Nebraska, established in 2009, served as the chapter's first president, and remains an active member today.
The Road Ahead
Habrock will focus much of her attention this year on the implementation of NUCA's 3-year strategic plan, established by NUCA's leadership in 2016. Her highest priorities include providing members and their employees with high-quality education resources that are relevant, easily accessible, and affordable; expanding technical education opportunities to educate and attract more skilled labor into the industry; promoting strong collaborative relationships between NUCA and its chapters and members; and broadening the scope and reach of NUCA's advocacy efforts.
"Members all over the country are struggling to find teachable or skilled labor to work their projects. This issue has been brewing for many years, and I believe we have reached critical mass. We are turning away work because we don't have the workers to complete the projects," she said. Habrock has helped establish a NUCA Workforce Development Task Force to develop and provide the tools contractors and chapters need to persuade school boards, key decision makers, and parents that tech education is a viable career path for all students.
Also clear in Habrock's mind are the opportunities NUCA has to move its legislative agenda forward under the Trump Administration. "Having a president who understands the connection between fixing our nation's infrastructure and assuring public health and safety, increasing jobs, and improving economic growth is great," she said. "Unfortunately, Congress has not historically supported the levels of infrastructure spending needed to improve and expand America's infrastructure. We have a lot of grassroots work ahead of us to educate federal legislators in our districts and our states," she said.
A Natural Leader Committed to Her Industry
Habrock did not join the family business, founded by her father, Lorenze "Larry" Roloff, until 1999, but she has been part of the underground utility construction industry her entire lifehaving spent her teenage years doing odd jobs for the companyenough to be certain as a teenager that construction was not going to be her life's work!
Upon earning her bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism (with an emphasis on marketing and political science) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Habrock took an entry-level position at Inacom Corp., an IT company in Omaha, where she spent several years learning many important business management concepts that she still relies on today. But just prior to 2000, Habrock's dad contacted her to see if her IT training could help with him with "this Y2K thing." She returned to the company, continued to help him part- time, and never looked back. "I believe in blooming where you have been planted," she said of her decision to return to L.G. Roloff full time. "I have no doubt that divine intervention led me back to my family's company, and I have grown very passionate about the company, the people here, and the important work we do."
An Active Life Outside the Industry
In addition to the time she spends with her company and volunteering with NUCA and NUCA of Nebraska, Habrock still finds time to serve on the Louisville, Nebraska, Board of Education and on the boards of the Midlands Community Foundation and the Cass County Economic Development Council.
Admittedly, her greatest passion is her family: Monty, her husband of 24 years, and her two daughters, Claire, age 19, and Sophie, age 16.